Federal court strikes down the majority of Idaho's "ag-gag" law

Posted at 12:55 PM, Jan 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-04 23:58:05-05

A federal appeals court panel says Idaho's ban on spying at farms, dairies and slaughterhouses violates free speech rights.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday ruled that sections of the law illegally targeted free speech and investigative journalism.

However, the panel also ruled the law correctly criminalized those who made false statements to obtain records at an agricultural facility.

Idaho lawmakers passed the law making it a crime to surreptitiously videotape agriculture operations in 2014 after the state's $2.5 billion dairy industry complained that videos of cows being abused at a southern Idaho dairy unfairly hurt their businesses.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund sued the state, and in 2015 a federal court invalidated the law after finding that it violated the First Amendment.

"We think this decision really sends a message to states that have "Ag-Gag" laws or states that are considering them that these statues don't past constitutional muster and that criminalize this sort of protected speech is not going to work," said Kelsey Eberly an Attorney with the Animal Legal Defense Fund.

6 On Your Side reached out to the Idaho Dairymen's Association, Idaho farm bureau, Idaho Cattle Association, and the Governor's Office for comment but did not get a response.